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Off Main Street: Tips of the cap

Capping the conversation

When New Era Cap this week announced plans for its first big run of NFL hats at its Derby plant, Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Bills CEO Russ Brandon shared in the moment.

Before Brandon spoke, he paused in front of a rack with a variety of NFL logos. He grabbed a couple of the Bills hats and moved them in front of the Patriots and Jets hats on display – a message of sorts to the AFC East rivals.

Schumer was delighted to be handed a Bills hat with his name on the back. Not only did he put it on, Schumer turned the cap backwards in the style of a younger wearer. “Do I look 25?” asked the 65-year-old lawmaker.

New Era CEO Christopher Koch recalled when he was growing up, he spent two summer breaks sewing caps at the plant when his father ran the business. That prompted Schumer to jump in with his own father/son business story.

“My father made me work in his business, too,” Schumer said. “I was killing roaches. He was an exterminator.”

The name game

In a recent debate, acting Erie County District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. took a bit of heat from the two Democrats and one Republican vying to take over the office he currently holds.

Unfortunately for him, the indignity didn’t end there as WIVB-TV reporter Al Vaughters, the moderator of last week’s debate sponsored by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, kept inadvertently addressing Flaherty by the name of one his challengers, fellow Democrat John V. Flynn. The repeated mistake appeared to irk Flaherty enough for him to make an ostentatious display of turning his cardboard nameplate in Vaughters’ direction a couple of times after being misaddressed.

In fairness, though, a couple of the candidates struggled to get the names right of the panelists posing questions to them, more than once confusing Shantee Perkins of “Real Teens Reel Talk” with WGRZ-TV reporter Claudine Ewing.

Amidst all the name confusion, Vaughters also had the challenging task of ensuring the candidates did not go over their two-minute time limit to answer questions, as well as taking on the role of final arbiter when a candidate requested a 30-second rebuttal. Having his requests denied a few times, former prosecutor Mark A. Sacha, also a Democrat, then took to addressing Vaughters as “your honor,” which plays well in a courtroom but, in a debate, maybe not so much.

The thrill is gone

There’s the summer doldrums sometimes followed by the end-of-summer anxiety.

It was difficult to tell which may have afflicted Lancaster School Board President Patrick Uhteg at this week’s board meeting. To some observers, Uhteg’s brief statement welcoming staff and students back for the upcoming school year came across as a bit less than enthusiastic.

Board colleague Brenda Christopher didn’t miss a beat and chided him good naturedly about not sounding too thrilled as he issued his welcoming statement.

Uhteg, a teacher in the Depew School District, made a quick comeback.

“I’m happy to return to the structure,” he said, referring to his own teaching, as well. “I’m tired of emptying the dishwasher.”

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Matt Glynn and Karen Robinson. email:

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